What would happen if you said yes to everything? This is the premise of a Jim Carrey movie, but it's also a character type.
People pleasers thrive off making other people happy. Is it admirable? Yes. Healthy? Not necessarily. It's one thing to value bringing joy to others, but those with the behavior type may end up taking it too far.
A 2012 study suggests that people pleasers tend to give into unspoken social pressures. The study found that if a people pleaser's friend was having a dessert (candy, in the study's case), the pleaser often matched the amount their friend ate just so they wouldn't feel uneasy about what they were consuming. In other words? Their friend's comfort level in a situation came before their own.
"Often, people pleasers are afraid of confrontation and will just agree and say yes to most anything to avoid an uncomfortable argument or disagreement," social psychologist Susan Newman, author of The Book of No: 250 Ways to Say It—and Mean It and Stop People-Pleasing Forever, told Yahoo! Health last year.
But here's the truth for all the "yes" men and women out there: It's more than okay to say no to that invitation from your friend's cousin or that last-minute project at work that's really not your responsibility. So while it may feel uncomfortable to politely decline someone's offer or request, you're really doing yourself a favor in the long run.
That said, people pleasers can't entirely help their can-do mentality. Here are some signs you might be a people pleaser:
1. Telling someone 'no' physically pains you.
As a result, you'll usually be the one to take on extra work or go out on a Friday night when you really just wanted to stay home. Why? Because disappointing someone is your kryptonite.
2. You have a habit of saying you're sorry.
Get in someone's way on the train? You apologize. Take a little time to respond to an email? You apologize. Accidentally walk into a dining room chair? You apologize.
3. Conflict terrifies you.
While nobody likes an argument, people pleasers avoid it even more than most. And that can turn into a big problem.
Try looking at conflict as an opportunity to resolve an issue, advises Susan Krauss Whitbourne, a professor of psychological and brain sciences at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. In a blog for Psychology Today, she explained why we need the interaction in the first place: For the resolution.
"The basic themes of communication, respect, curiosity, and willingness to consider alternative points of view can get you through many of life’s toughest moments with the people who matter most to you," she wrote.
4. You tend to over-explain yourself.
On the rare occasion you can't do something, you tend to go into great detail as to why. But there's no reason to feel so guilty, pleaser. Here's a mantra for you: You can do anything, but not everything.
5. You'll likely accept any invitation.
To a wedding, to the movies, to that weird bowling league you're a little iffy on.
6. You work hard to prove yourself.
This goes for work and in your relationships. Like highly sensitive people, people pleasers are somewhat averse to criticism and thrive on positive feedback. This pushes you to work harder to make sure you're doing everything you should be in order to satisfy your boss or partner.
7. You won't pick where to go for dinner.
Decisions = Excruciating. What really makes you happy is going to a restaurant with great company -- whether it's Korean BBQ or Italian is irrelevant.
8. You probably won't raise your hand with a question.
There are two types of people in a meeting: The ones who eagerly shoot their hands up during the question and answer session and the ones who silently make a note of what to ask later. People pleasers don't like to call their problems to attention, they'd rather focus on solving everyone else's issues first.
9. You secretly like being that person everyone depends on.
It makes you feel good to help your coworkers, family and friends. And it turns out science is on your side: Research shows being generous or helping others can increase your own happiness level.
Using your personality to benefit others in addition to yourself? That's definitely a reason to say "yes."
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